Allez! Henin

From both Henin perfect again in third straight title and DeSimone: Henin's personal journey.

An hour after clutching her fourth French Open trophy, Justine Henin cradled other precious cargo in her arms: her 6-week-old niece.

Talking and laughing with friends and relatives in a lounge just off center court, Henin slowly rocked her brother's baby, then gently kissed her head. As much as a sixth Grand Slam title meant to the top-ranked Belgian, this scene was worth far more.

For Henin, life off the court has long presented far more problems than life on it. So after overwhelming No. 7 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia 6-1, 6-2 Saturday for a third consecutive French Open championship, Henin was thrilled to be able to sip champagne alongside family members with whom she only recently re-established contact.

"It's been a huge step in my life in the last few months. And I was glad I could give them this victory, because everyone suffered a lot," said Henin, who went about seven years without speaking to her father or three siblings. "Today, finally, we are united in this joy, and we can share this moment."

"I want to dedicate this victory to my family," she said. "I missed you. I want to offer this victory to you. I love you with all my heart."

"That was my heart that was talking," Henin said later. "What happened in the past is the past, and I just want to move forward, and look forward, and enjoy every moment of my life with them back in it now."

It was a brave and atypical public declaration that speaks worlds about how Henin has evolved from an athlete who looked exclusively dead ahead to a woman whose personal struggles have improved her depth perception.

She wouldn't discuss what precipitated the estrangement, nor what prompted the reconciliation. Her brother David said things changed when he was in a car accident this year and awoke from a coma to find Henin in his room.

Henin smiled almost teasingly when she declined to reveal the contents of several envelopes she opened during and after the match. They contained notes from Rodriguez. Most were about tactics, she said. As for the last one, "I'm going to keep it for me," Henin said.

Related: Justine Henin back on form.

Sep 9, Bonnie D. Ford: Season comes full circle for Henin.


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